If you’re not laughing your way through your workday, you aren't alone. In this era of political correctness, the workplace has become humor impaired. People are afraid to tell jokes because they might get fired for offending someone. Workers have stopped laughing, because the boss might think they’re not getting work done. And no one laughs anymore in Los Angeles, well, mostly because they can’t – too much Botox.
1) Create a database. (CRM – Customer Relationship Management) When I was an 8 year-old magician performing at birthday parties, I kept every client’s name on an index card in a recipe box. I’ve moved up from a recipe box to a computer, where I file away everyone who has ever contacted me. Just like in Game of Thrones, the power is in the hands of how many people are in your army. Now, your power is in the number of followers you have in your database, on Twitter, on Facebook, and on YouTube. I use SugarCRM. You can use MailChimp, or here is a list of reviews http://www.reviews.com/crm-software/.
2) Provide your followers with value. They want to hear how you can help them. Give your fans something other than, “Come see my show!” Email them about things THEY are interested in (don’t assume it’s you). Think of yourself as a first responder for THEIR needs.
3) Network by supporting other people. After your day job, get out of the house, stay off the 405 and other roads that don’t move so you can talk to other comics, actors, writers, and participate in the community. If you come to other people’s events, they just might come to yours (it’s not true for funerals).
4) Become a YOUTUBE STAR. DIY your own projects on YouTube. Build your team to create your own projects and internet content. Join together with actors, writers, and directors to show what you can do. YouTube sensation Jenna Marbles has over 13 million subscribers and makes millions. GloZell turned herself into a star with her zany characters on YouTube. YouTube is the stage you want to be on.
Here are 5 simple tips to help you become a better writer:
1. Try writing at 4 AM. It's easier to write when your critic is asleep. You will have access to the hidden gold in your subconscious.
2. Write inappropriate stuff. There will be time to edit and censor yourself, but filtering out ideas in the beginning will also filter out the gold.
3. If you get stuck – write lists starting with the Top 10 Reasons Writing Sucks. Lists are not just for David Letterman.
4. Cover your computer screen while you write. Not seeing what you are writing will keep you from judging it as you go.
5. Set your iPhone timer and keep writing until it goes off. The difference between pros and amateurs is that the pros keep going even when they don’t want to.
I’d been SO EXCITED as I arranged a 4th of July vacation with my family in Big Bear -- hiking with the dogs, lying in a chaise lounge by the lake, sipping a drink, swimming. Then I saw the place. The Lake Front Lodge was a 3-STORY WALK-UP with nails sticking out of the plywood steps (I put the pictures up on my Facebook page). The room had curtains with BULLET HOLES; no, they weren’t lace. The one lamp was without a bulb. The bedspread, circa 1982 K-Mart, seemed to have holes from the SHRAPNEL, probably related to the curtain incident. There were no chairs by the lake, maybe because of the Hitchcock-like swarms of MOSQUITOES. Swimming? Only if you could step through multiple CATFISH CARCASSES floating belly up on the shoreline.
So much for not checking Trip Advisor.
In one shattering moment, we discovered there were NO refunds, no other places available, and it started to STORM. Lightning, thunder, and a 4.8 EARTHQUAKE. The room was a crime scene, it was storming, our cellphones were beeping with an emergency flash flood warning – what next? Locusts, vermin, the slaughtering of firstborns? Did it make sense to STAY and smear the blood of a Paschal Lamb on my car? Or give up on the fantasy of what I had envisioned and LEAVE? We had to make a decision.
This reminded me of another time in my life where I had to make a decision to walk away or stay and make the best of it.
In 1989, I had a series of 10 stand-up comedy gigs booked by Rick Messina, who later became Drew Carey’s manager. I was staying in New York in the kind of neighborhood where even a schnauzer could get mugged, and that’s what happened to my beloved Walter, who got attacked by a pack of stray dogs. Cabs apparently don’t stop for bleeding animals, but I managed to get him to the animal hospital. Handing him over, I was crying as I told the doctors, “I can’t stay, I have to work!”
“This late? What do you do?” they asked.
“I’m a stand-up comedienne!” I said through my sobs.
At the time I had spent 17 years as a stand-up comedienne, sometimes 46 weeks on the road. This gig was in Long Island, a club called Governor’s, which somehow was a magnet for all the scum of the earth. I borrowed a jacket to cover my blouse that was caked with my dog’s blood. Making my way to the stage, I heard the crowd welcoming me with, “You suck! You suck!”
I plodded onstage, starting a joke, “I’m worried about getting old…” Someone shouted, “Getting old?” I was 34. Do I stay onstage and “get them” or end this misery and piss off everyone?
Then, I had a EUREKA MOMENT where time seemed to roll in slow motion. I saw their drunken faces as a blur. I saw my father’s face with his bloodshot eyes. Then it hit me – that making drunks laugh was something I did as a child at the dinner table. I realized NOW I am an adult with CHOICES. And that night, I made a DARING CHOICE – to LEAVE. I walked off stage, walked out of my contracts with Rick, picked up my dog, got a plane home to LA, and looked for something else to do with my career. For a year, I thought about how I could reinvent myself. That led to launching my workshops, writing Stand-Up Comedy: The Book, and appearing on the Oprah Winfrey Show and getting booked in a career I didn’t know existed – as a CORPORATE SPEAKER.
This is what came to mind while we were in Big Bear waiting for the mudslide to clear that had been triggered by the earthquake. Sometimes when dealing with bad situations, we forget that we ALWAYS HAVE A CHOICE. As with poker, if life deals you bad cards, you can keep hoping that your luck will change, or fold. I folded. I left Big Bear.
Back in the comfort of my own home, I took a bath in my CLEAN tub, went boogie-boarding in the ocean down the block, and felt sure I’d done the right thing. Knowing when to LEAVE is as important as knowing when to STAY.
Feel free to forward this to someone you know in a terrible marriage, dead-end job or whoever’s had too much cosmetic work done.
Is it better to be sorry about something you did, or something you didn't do? You have to DO IT to find out.
Judy Carter blogs on comedy, storytelling and public speaking techniques, using personal stories and her adventures as a stand-up comic turned motivational public speaker. Her weekly blogs are read by fans of her books, “The Comedy Bible” (Simon and Schuster) and “The Message of You” (St. Martin’s Press), which include comics, speakers, and entrepreneurs. She is also known for teaching the value of humor and storytelling to businesses as a leadership and stress reduction tool.